How They're Made: Whimsical Papercuts

by Nina Myers McCammon

Give me a sheet of white paper and an X-Acto knife and I can turn it into an elementary snowflake at best; Give Baltimore artist Annie Howe of Bmore Papercuts those same tools and she's a magician, transforming a dull piece of paper into a highly detailed, whimsical masterpiece, from an elaborate cityscape to a cyclist in the countryside. I've long-admired Annie's one-of-a-kind creations and thought it would be fun to have her walk us through one of her projects from start to finish with step-by-step photos.

The examples below are 2' x 4' banners that Annie designed for this weekend's Baltimore Book Festival, specifically for a group called Tree Baltimore which encourages tree planting in the city. She told me her vision was inspired by urban nature, book reading for leisure and enjoyment, and the benefits of both of those things in Baltimore. In her own words, here's Annie's creative process.

"No matter what I'm working on, I always start with sketches."

"I draw inspiration from the project and I research and collect visual references."

"Once I have the perfect sketches, I fold the paper in half."

"Then, I draw the symmetrical parts onto the back. This is usually the border, and any other elements of the piece that can be mirrored."

"After that, I cut everything out that is symmetrical."

"I then unfold the paper cut and draw the non-symmetrical elements. In these examples, most of the the pieces were non-symmetrical, like the city and the kids. If there are words in the piece, I draw all of those on backwards because I keep all the pencil lines on the back of the piece."

"Then I finish cutting the piece."

"Once I've cut everything out, I go back in and carefully neaten any edges and cuts that need polishing. Then I'm done! This project features three different panels. Each of them will be scanned, and those designs will be turned into printed banners."

Thank you so much for sharing your process with us, Annie! The following stores stock her work and she's also available for commissions and classes. Contact her here.